A concerted response by a member of the American Salvage Association (ASA), technical experts from the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and New York City Fire Department (FDNY) averted the risk of a toxic material release from a chemical carrier anchored in Gravesend Bay near Brooklyn, N.Y. during the week of Feb. 8.
During operations with a barge alongside to transfer ethanol cargo, the 443-ft chemical carrier Sichem Defiance sustained an implosion on board. The main deck over a cargo tank collapsed and adjacent bulkheads were breeched. The ship’s cargo consisted of benzene LAB and ethanol, a dangerously volatile liquid.
Following the violent event, the ship’s captain immediately notified Federal and port authorities. USCG dispatched a response team from its Atlantic Strike Team based at Fort Dix, N.J., and FDNY, having responsibility for hazardous material spills on city waters, and set up an Incident Command Post in the vessel’s wheelhouse with a Marine Battalion Commander in charge.
The ship also notified the ASA member, also serving as the vessel’s salvage response contractor, who sent casualty response engineers on board to address safety issues, survey damages, and develop an action plan to prevent another explosion, fire or spill. The team worked with FDNY and USCG experts to mitigate potential threats to the crews on board and the local populace, and assumed emergency pumping and air monitoring duties.